Very few things disrupt our lives the way volatile, reactive emotions can. Let’s face it, we have all found ourselves in that place before, where our emotional reactivity has gotten the better of us, and logic seems nowhere to be found. It can be overwhelming, embarrassing, and at times even all-encompassing. Finding clarity in the muddy waters of emotional turmoil can be challenging, yet it’s necessary if we are to maintain balance in our daily lives.
Lao Tzu said, “Muddy water, let stand, becomes clear.” This is such an important concept, as when we are in the midst of turbulence, the emotional debris within is constantly being shaken. Unless we can pull away, quiet our emotional chatter, and allow things to settle, it will be difficult to find any semblance of clarity.
Quieting our mind typically requires removing ourselves from the epicenter of the storm, where whipping winds keep all the bits and pieces in a flurried, agitated state. Stepping away from the tempest and distancing ourselves to a place where we can observe the disruption, without being directly affected by the winds, allows the debris to settle. It is only then we can make an adequate assessment and determine a proper course of action.
Far too often we attempt to appraise and mitigate our situation while still in the midst of the storm. That would be like sending in an insurance adjuster to determine the amount of damage and payout to an area while the tornado is still on the ground. It isn’t until the system has passed, all the detritus has settled, and the environment is once again stable, that the adjuster can correctly determine what caused the damage, how to begin recovery, and the resources needed to accomplish that goal.
Our personal lives are no different. When we find ourselves in murky waters, making the conscious choice to stay within and ride out devastating emotional storms, rather than retreating to a place of safe observation, sets the stage for far greater damage. Emotional chatter and resistance are often what accompany these rocky rides, continuing to fuel upheaval and keeping our world spinning out of control.
When our minds are reeling, we are incapable of identifying logical solutions to our problems. It isn’t until we withdraw to a place of stillness and quiet that we can adequately see things from an outside perspective, void of emotional entanglement. It is here the true reckoning begins, lessons can be recognized and understood, healing can transpire, and growth and expansion occur.
So what exactly does removing ourselves from the storm entail? Quite simply, it means temporarily removing ourselves from whatever is fueling our discomfort, until clarity and a healthy course of action can be determined. That might mean holding off on a major life decision, or taking a vacation or leave of absence from an unhealthy environment such as work, school, social media, or an activity. Sometimes we need to temporarily distance ourselves from an individual or group of people who are impacting us emotionally, until things can settle and become clear.
Another important factor is getting adequate sleep. Sleep and mood are closely connected. A lack of sleep contributes notably to irritability, increased stress, and anxiety. Once again, logic seems to go out the window when sleep deprivation is present. Sleep is also rest from our resistance. When we’re sleeping, there’s a ceasing of the chatter that accompanies resistant thoughts.
Not all that long ago, I found myself sleeping an inordinate amount. There was an accompanying sense of guilt, as I had a growing list of things I should have been doing instead. I was under more stress than usual and was exhausted from the cerebral calisthenics I was getting caught up in on a daily basis. (See anything wrong with this picture?) I can remember lying on my bed one evening, fighting my urge to sleep. I clearly heard the following instructions, “Stop fighting and sleep. When you are sleeping, you are not resisting me and I can accomplish far more when you’re in this state.” MIND BLOWN! I recognized at that moment that sleep was not the enemy, but rather a very useful tool that played a significant role in my ability to process without resistance. To this day, when I feel the need to sleep, I do so, no questions asked.
Perspective is everything, and our perspective changes dramatically depending on where we are standing. As I take a necessary step back and consider some of my more recent emotional storms, I’m thankful that I’m finding clarity, proper perspective, and healthy way forward that lends to greater depth and understanding of both myself, and those I interact with.
Love & Light,
Laura Lum Corby
Also published on Medium.